Toyota unveiled a slew of new active safety systems at a recent Tokyo event. Focusing on collision avoidance and reducing driver workload, the intelligent new technology is still in the development stage; however, the systems should see widespread distribution in many Toyota models in coming years. Among the upgraded amenities are 180-degree front and rear cameras with cross traffic detection and a parking assist system that automatically directs vehicles into parking spaces without the need for driver steering. The improved pedestrian collision avoidance system not only automatically stops the car in the event of an emergency; it also steers the vehicle away from the pedestrian as much as possible without leaving the lane.
The star of Toyota’s new safety program — and also the technology furthest from commercial release — is Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA), which employs short wave radio signals that allow vehicles to communicate information on speed, braking, acceleration and deceleration. Cooperative Cruise Control relies on car-to-car communication to maintain a safe distance between vehicles and eliminate the unnecessary speed reduction that results in traffic jams. Lane Trace Control uses high-performance cameras, millimeter-wave radar and control software to direct the vehicle in the smoothest possible line around curves at all speeds. In order for Toyota’s AHDA to be effective, all automakers would need to adopt similar vehicle communication systems.
While it could take up to several years before Toyota’s driving support technology is fully in place, the automaker’s initial prototypes nonetheless give a glimpse into an exciting automotive future in which vehicles can sense obstacles, communicate with each other and ultimately make decisions to help provide an optimal driving experience.